Two months ago we invited smokers to complete an online survey devised by the Centre for Substance Use Research in Glasgow.
The response exceeded our expectations. Over 600 completed the survey and the results are published today in a new report, The Pleasure of Smoking: The Views of Confirmed Smokers.
As you can imagine the opinions expressed by most respondents don't fit the establishment's anti-smoking narrative so don't expect to hear them on the Today programme, one of whose guest editors this week is Chief Medical Officer Dame Sally Davies.
Despite our best efforts it's unlikely too that you'll read about the The Pleasure of Smoking in your national newspaper. So it's up to you, dear reader, to help disseminate the report as widely as possible.
Here are the headline results:
The overwhelming majority of confirmed smokers say they light up because they enjoy smoking not because they are addicted, a new study has found.
A survey of over 600 smokers by the Centre for Substance Use Research in Glasgow found that nearly all respondents (95%) gave pleasure as their primary reason for smoking, with 35% suggesting that smoking was part of their identity.
Well over half (62%) liked the physical effect of nicotine, 55% liked the way smoking provided “time for oneself”, 52% liked the taste or smell of tobacco, and 49% liked the ritual involved in smoking.
Most of those surveyed (77%) expected to smoke for many years with only 5% envisaging a time in the near future when they might have stopped.
Although a majority (56%) felt that they were addicted to smoking, many described the habit as a personal choice rather than behaviour determined by their dependence on nicotine.
Asked what they liked least about smoking, 73% cited the financial cost while 54% objected to the stigma that is now directed towards smokers.
Asked what might prompt them to stop smoking in future, the most common reasons were becoming seriously unwell as a result of smoking or exacerbating an illness through smoking.
Anti-smoking policies such as smoking bans and plain packaging were not cited by any respondents as reasons to quit smoking.
Significantly nine out of ten respondents (91%) felt they were treated unfairly by government. Only 4% felt they were treated fairly.
More than half the respondents (59%) had used alternative nicotine delivery products such as e-cigarettes. Few however were persuaded to switch permanently from combustible cigarettes to e-cigarettes.
The full press release, including comments by Dr Neil McKeganey, director of the CSUR, is available here.
I will return to various elements in the report later in the week. There's quite a bit to chew over including the reaction of respondents to e-cigarettes.
To download The Pleasure of Smoking: The Views of Confirmed Smokers click here.